Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report

 

Once again we had a good amount of snow fall over the weekend finishing off on Monday! The High Atlas are certainly making up for the last couple of years where conditions have been pretty lean. With the warmer temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday the snow pack has really firmed up nicely. There are still big drifts up to about thigh deep in places around the refuge, but the snowpack should continue to become firm.

 

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Snowpack consolidating well! 3-12-14

 

Snow Cover & Snowpack

Yesterday, I saw multiple avalanche debris sections including a larger section of debris a little way down from the refuge. Also, on my way back down to Imlil from the refuge I saw lots of slopes with sunwheels i.e. the snowpack warming and becoming saturated. This is a classic warning sign so stay alert when out especially later in the day!

 

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Sunwheel – always a warning sign! 3-12-14

 

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Avalanche debris near the refuge – This slide happened 3 days ago!

 

After doing multiple hand shear test around the refuge slopes, I found layers shearing pretty easily on the graupel layer (as noted in the last report) which still exists in the snowpack. Overall the snowpack is consolidating well with the freeze/thaw cycles but it is worth being on your guard with warmer temperatures. The snowpack should continue to firm up as a result of the current stable weather.

 

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Graupel layers! 3-12-14

 

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Snow pit near the refuge 3-12-14

 

Climbing Conditions

The ice and mixed lines are coming into their own! It looks as if, with the added snow and the predicted conditions, the ice will continue to grow on routes on Afella, Toubkal West, and Ras. Give it another week or so and lots of these routes should come into condition. The Chockstone route is in good nick as well as the neighboring mixed route Curtain Call. Also, the Afekhoi (NW Cwm) icefalls need just a bit more time, but the buttresses around the cascades are in good condition for some mixed climbing!

 

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Ice is getting close to touching down on many of the routes on Afella! 3-12-14

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Upclose shot of some the ice routes on Afella 3-12-14

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Routes on Toubkal West need a bit more time to form! 3-12-14

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Routes on Ras are coming into condition 3-12-14

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Curtain Call (left) and Chockstone Gully in good nick! 3-12-14

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Afekhoi (NW Cwm) icefalls en route to the Toubkal refuge need a bit more freeze/thaw but the buttress to the left is in good condition 3-12-14

 

Refuge Access

The snow line on the path to the refuge starts at Sidi Chamharouch (2,350m). Mules are fine to bring up supplies and kit to this point but above Sidi Cham porters are required if you don’t want to carry the load in to the refuge. Snow on the path has been packed down and is hard and potentially requires crampons in the colder parts of the day (morning and evening).

 

Winter Conditions Summary

Stable weather will firm up the snowpack over the next week and the bigger ice lines should start to come into condition.  The mountaineering routes will continue to get better as the snow hardens. There are weak layers in the snowpack but overall it is becoming well bonded but it is worth keeping an eye on things especially during the warmer parts of the day! It is also worth picking scoured sections on slopes or well-used paths (i.e. South Col route of Toubkal) and avoid areas of heavy drifting and loading such as some of the gullies. There are a lot of avalanche debris sites on the way to and around the refuge and one larger site, which released a couple of days ago.

 

For logistics packages in the Toubkal Massif or guided trips then take a lot at the Morocco trips and course or contact us directly at morocco@the-mountain-people.com

 

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Standard South Col route up Toubkal 3-12-14

Categories: Blog, Climbing Information, Conditions, High Atlas, Ice Climbing, James, Morocco, Mountain Information, Mountaineering, Winter
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